The Centro Cultura Lautem
The development of a community Cultural Centre in Lospalos, Lautem, is MHI's major project, being undertaken in a valued partnership with the State Secretariat for Tourism, Art and Culture, Government of Timor-Leste. Through a staged process, an arts and culture precinct is being established on the site of the Merkadu Antigu (Old Portuguese Market) in central Lospalos. The Centre currently comprises a large open air performing space, backstage dressing rooms and store room and a space for kiosk and ticket box. This is complemented by two offices; a dance studio; a small gallery and a visual arts studio. Future stages of the project are intended to include a café and shop, museum, art gallery and learning centre.
Plans are for the Centre to offer cultural development programs and events for local people and tourists, and skills development in arts, crafts and cultural tourism. Activities are intended to support maintenance of cultural heritage; inspire creativity and respect for diversity; promote social cohesion and economic viability for Lospalos and the wider district. The Secretariat of State for Arts, Culture and Tourism supports the Centre by providing a small team of officers and security and cleaning staff. As yet no activities are being implemented by those staff, so in the interim, Many Hands offers a daily program in the centre for young people, and outreach programs include mural-creation in other local communities. These are led by talented local artist Youth Program Officer Cesario Lourdes, trained in Dili at Arte Moris school and studio. Our small Vida Arte Galeria hosts regular exhibitions, from cultural heritage information to works by students of the youth program.
Many Hands also host regular visits by artists from Australia and other countries who come to share skills and expertise with Lautem locals. Projects to date have covered artforms from music to dance, creative writing, theatre, video story-telling and more. A community cultural festival held in 2013 involved 500 local participants from all five sub-districts over two days of celebration.
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